Executive Leadership

Dara Munson

President & CEO

Dara Munson has built a career focused on the needs of women and children. Today, she serves Chicagoland as the first African American president and CEO of Family Focus, delivering early childhood education and development, youth development and family support services to 20,000 families and their children. Formerly CEO of Chicago Child Care Society since 2016, Munson is a native of Detroit and past president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Detroit, past chief operating officer of Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, and past senior director of United Way of Southeastern Michigan. Her early career and education were in the criminal and juvenile justice fields.

In May, Munson was awarded the prestigious Donald Stewart Fellowship from the African American Legacy Board at Chicago Community Trust. She is immediate past Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Eastern Michigan University Foundation Board (her alma mater) where she was the first African American woman to hold that role. She also serves Illinois and Chicagoland in several leadership positions including:

  • Governor’s Early Childhood Education and Care Transition Advisory Committee – Appointed Member
  • International Women’s Forum, Chicago Chapter – President-elect
  • Chicago Foundation for Women South Side Giving Circle – Inaugural Member
  • Illinois Partners for Human Services – Board Member
  • Early Childhood Education CEO Roundtable, Chicago – Founding Member
  • Chicago Alliance for Collaborative Effort, Immediate Past Chair
  • Voices for Illinois Children, Thought Leaders of Color Committee – Member (past)
  • Illinois Child Day Care Licensing Advisory Board – Member
  • Chicago’s COVID-19 Industry Guidelines Work Group – Member

Munson is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Chi Omega Omega Chapter and Windy City (IL) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated. She is a graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Eastern Michigan University, a Master of Science degree in public administration from Central Michigan University and a strategic perspectives in non-profit management certificate from Harvard Business School.

 

Dottie Johnson

Chief Financial Officer

Dottie Johnson joined Family Focus in 2021 and oversees all aspects of its finances, information technology, and facilities management. Dottie has nearly 30 years of experience in financial leadership roles in the nonprofit sector. Previously, she served as the CFO and controller for Chicago Commons, where she was responsible for all facets of the financial strategy, planning, management, and accounting. Prior to her time at Chicago Commons, she has held varying financial leadership positions in the nonprofit sector, providing strategic direction to leadership teams on financial sustainability, overseeing investments and liquidity, financial risk assessment, and resource allocation decisions. In addition, Dottie is a published author in trade journals, developed an accredited training curriculum for senior leadership on nonprofit financial management, and has traveled around the country as a trainer and consultant. She is a certified public accountant and holds a bachelor of science degree in business from Murray State University. Dottie enjoys giving back to her community and does so through her service as a trustee of her church’s finance board and director of the children’s nursery.

Erin Walton

Senior Vice President of External Relations

Erin Walton joined Family Focus in 2023, and brings decades of experience in strategic development, fundraising, quality improvement and executive leadership. Erin served as Executive Director of Resilience, a Chicago-based nonprofit that empowers victims of sexual violence, from 2017 – 2023. Prior to that, she served at Chicago Child Care Society as Director of Quality Improvement from 1999 – 2007, and Development Director from 2009 – 2017. Erin also serves as a part-time lecturer at University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work. She earned her MBA from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.

Gerry Tolbert

Senior Vice President of People & Culture

Gerry Tolbert is a seasoned Human Resources Executive with over 25 years of experience in various industries and joined the Family Focus team in 2023. She specializes in HR strategy development, international non-profit management, cultural sensitivity, and diversity management. Gerry has served in leadership roles, including as the Associate Vice President of Human Resources for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Under her leadership, the organization was recognized as one of the “Top 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For” in the US. She holds a Master of Science degree in Human Resources Management and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish. Gerry has been actively involved in community activities, having served as a former Vice President and Spanish Language Instructor for Love Without Borders International, as well as being a former committee member for the Mombasa Relief Initiative in Kenya. Her engagement in these roles allowed her to make a positive impact on the lives of children, both locally and abroad.

 

Sherneron Hilliard

Senior Vice President of Programs and Impact

Sherneron Hilliard has held many roles at Family Focus, most recently as the vice president of programs. She served as the center director of the Lawndale center for seven years, having graduated as the project director of Adult Services for eight years, also at the Lawndale site. Prior to joining Family Focus she was an individual and family therapist for ProCare Centers. Sherneron has a B.A. from Jackson State University and a M.S.W. from Loyola University. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Education Counseling Psychology.